Wellington holds onto World Sevens tournament
WELLINGTON – Wellington will continue to host a leg of the World Sevens circuit until at least 2019, New Zealand Rugby (NZR) confirmed on Wednesday, ending speculation the tournament could be moved to another city due to waning interest.
The 2016 edition was the last in a five-year agreement to host the event in Wellington. NZR has a contract to host a leg of the series until 2019.
The Wellington stop was once one of the most popular on the circuit, with tickets for the 34,500-capacity Wellington Regional Stadium selling out in minutes. Many fans dressed up in costume and turned the event into a two-day party.
However, a clamp down by authorities on fans’ behaviour and the rise of competing events has seen interest wane considerably since 2014. This year organisers sold some 12,000 tickets, though the event was praised for its family-oriented atmosphere and focus on the rugby.
Dunedin and Auckland were reported earlier this year as being possible alternative venues.
NZR Chief Executive Steve Tew said they would continue to look at ways of improving the tournament.
“We’ve never shied away from the fact the tournament had to evolve,” he said in a statement on Wednesday. “We want this tournament to be one that can be enjoyed by all fans, young and old so 2016 marked a real turning point.
“We’ll make the necessary tweaks for 2017 to ensure Wellington continues to be a fantastic sevens host.”
The Wellington tournament, the third of 10 in the series, will be held on Jan. 28-29 in 2017.
2016/17 World Sevens series dates:
Dec. 2-3 Dubai, UAE
Dec. 10-11 Cape Town, South Africa
Jan. 28-29 Wellington, New Zealand
Feb. 4-5 Sydney, Australia
Mar. 3-5 Las Vegas, U.S.
Mar. 11-12 Vancouver, Canada
April 8-9 Hong Kong
April 15-16 Singapore
May 13-14 Paris, France
May 20-21 London, England -Reuters